What You Should Know About Emotional Trauma And Healing

Updated November 8, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Content Warning: Please be advised that the below article might mention topics that include abuse, sexual assault, and other potentially sensitive trauma-related subjects.

Stressful and emotional events can lead to emotional trauma. Symptoms of emotional trauma may include anxiety, guilt, shame, intrusive thoughts, confusion, irritability, and more. Some symptoms can also be physical, such as dizziness, nausea, and headaches, among others. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can often be used to work through emotional trauma, and lifestyle changes that may help can include meditation, journaling, exercise, a healthy diet, and high-quality sleep. In some cases, emotional trauma can lead to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, which can frequently be treated by therapy, whether traditional or online.

Causes Of Emotional Trauma

Emotional trauma can be caused by several different events. Stressful and traumatic events, such as divorce and abuse, can severely impact your emotions and emotional health. All forms of emotional trauma may be treated with emotional healing. Even a one-time event, like a car accident or sports injury, can cause severe trauma and confusing emotions. Other possible causes of trauma and difficult emotions include:

  • Going through a severe illness such as cancer or undergoing surgery
  • Experiencing the death of a loved one
  • Becoming injured from an attack
  • Living in a high-crime area
  • Living through a natural disaster
  • Witnessing an accident
  • Surviving an abusive relationship

Going through trauma can leave you feeling emotions like fear and overwhelm. Even if this traumatic event occurred a while ago, it could still negatively affect your emotions until you begin healing.

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse in any form, please reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for 24/7 support, advice, and assistance.

Symptoms Of Emotional Trauma

People who struggle with emotional trauma often feel as though they lack direction or support for emotional healing. Negative emotions and unpleasant memories can bring about serious mental health concerns. Sometimes, people can be in denial of their emotions and trauma. Other times, they may be confused and need help processing the emotions and trauma and moving toward healing. Everyone can have different responses to trauma and its related emotions, and no two routes to emotional healing may be the same.

If you are experiencing the following symptoms after a potentially traumatic emotional event, you may need to take steps toward emotional healing.

  • Nightmares
  • Intrusive thoughts or memories of the event, often out of the blue
  • Emotions of shock or denial
  • Trouble sleeping or insomnia
  • Inability to maintain close and healthy relationships
  • Depression and hopeless emotions
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Irritability
  • Hostility toward others
  • Guilt or shame
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling disconnected or numb to the world
  • Confusion
  • Anger issues
  • Mood swings
  • Panic attacks
  • Irritability
  • Obsessions and/or compulsions

Everyone can experience emotional pain differently, so emotional healing may not look the same for any two people. You might have multiple symptoms of trauma or just a couple. If you’re unsure whether your symptoms are the result of emotional pain or something else, you might wish to talk to a doctor or mental health professional about your emotions.

Emotional Pain In Children And Teenagers

Physical and emotional trauma can occur early in childhood. Children and adolescents who live in an emotionally or physically abusive home environment, witness domestic or emotional abuse between their parents, undergo surgery, or experience a serious illness can develop trauma. 

When you live through a traumatic event as a child and are not given time to process those emotions or begin healing, you may see the effects well into adulthood. Seeking treatment for it as soon as possible can be crucial in helping you cope with the complicated feelings it has caused and allowing you to reconnect with others. As you grow up, emotional healing can help ensure you maintain a healthy mindset.

Treatment Options For Recovering From Emotional Pain And Emotional Trauma

People who experience symptoms of conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, emotional anxiety, or depression because of trauma can typically undergo emotional healing through psychotherapy and group counseling.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, can be commonly used in emotional healing to treat cases of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues. Patients who are living with these emotions and mental health concerns may learn how to challenge negative thought patterns and better cope with their symptoms through CBT.

Support Your Emotional Healing

Here are some ways you may support yourself and your emotions if you’re working to heal and address your trauma:

  • Following a proper diet and fitness routine
  • Joining support groups
  • Making sleep a priority
  • Learning more about what you’re experiencing
  • Seeing a mental health professional
  • Avoiding alcohol and drugs
  • Meditating or practicing mindfulness
  • Journaling
  • Staying in touch with friends and other loved ones
  • Using deep breathing techniques
  • Doing yoga

Everyone may cope with stress and trauma in different ways because we are all unique individuals. You may need to try out a few methods of emotional healing to find what works best for you. Medication may also help you cope with your emotional healing, depending on the situation and condition. Always consult a medical professional before deciding to take any new medication.

Signs You Might Have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

If you find that your symptoms are not improving or are worsening over time, you might have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which could be supported by emotional healing. PTSD can be a serious mental health condition that generally arises from experiencing trauma.

Many people associate PTSD with combat veterans. While veterans can experience PTSD, people outside the military can also develop it. Living through or witnessing a particularly stressful or dangerous event where you felt helpless can bring about symptoms of PTSD. This disorder may be managed and treated with emotional healing and talk therapy.

Common symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Nightmares about the event
  • Severe emotional stress from triggers of the event
  • Flashbacks of the event that make you feel as though you are reliving it
  • Trouble remembering certain parts of the event
  • Attempting to avoid talking about or thinking about the traumatic event
  • Detachment from loved ones
  • Being easily startled or constantly surveying your surroundings for signs of danger

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please consider speaking with a doctor as soon as possible. They may refer you to a mental health professional who can formulate a treatment plan for you. The sooner you start treatment, the sooner you may start to heal.

Physical Trauma And Emotional Healing

Physical trauma can coincide with emotional trauma when recovering from an accident, combat, or abuse. Anyone, regardless of age or gender, can experience physical trauma, and anyone can embark on emotional healing. People who have been in serious accidents or experienced assault may experience negative physical ramifications on their mental and emotional development until they begin emotional healing. If head trauma is also experienced, this can impact their emotional development as they grow older.

Survivors of abuse may incur severe physical injuries that require physical therapy and other forms of emotional healing treatment. In addition, they may require psychotherapy and other emotional support services to help them cope with complicated feelings related to trauma. This trauma can sometimes have extensive effects on an individual.

The Connection Between Physical And Emotional Pain

Emotional pain may hurt just as badly as physical pain, though in a different way. In many regards, the two can be interconnected. When someone has deep emotional pain, they may experience physical symptoms as a result. When someone is experiencing emotional pain, they may also have physical symptoms such as:

  •    Diarrhea
    •    Headaches
    •    Stomach problems
    •    Sweating
    •    Numbness
    •    Restlessness
    •    Insomnia
    •    Feeling weak
    •    Dizziness

There may be a clear link between emotional and physical symptoms and a clear link between physical and emotional healing. Rather than looking at physical and emotional pain as separate entities, many doctors and mental health professionals have begun looking at them together. One may affect the other, and vice versa.

Of course, some things may be purely emotional or purely physical. However, it’s clear that the two can exist on more of a spectrum or continuum rather than being entirely separate. Emotional healing can sometimes help alleviate physical pains, too.

Online Therapy May Help You Recover From Emotional Trauma

If you have experienced emotional trauma or believe you may be living with PTSD, please know that help is available. You may wish to consider therapy, whether face-to-face or online. Online therapy may be an excellent choice for you if you feel more comfortable speaking to a therapist from your home or another familiar location with an internet connection.

According to this study, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, can be effective when administered online. CBT generally involves examining and adjusting thought patterns, which can then positively impact your emotions and behaviors. This type of therapy is often used in treatment for emotional trauma and is sometimes used for PTSD as well.


Emotional trauma typically stems from highly stressful and emotional experiences. This type of trauma may have both emotional and physical symptoms, such as mood swings, panic attacks, hostility, feeling disconnected, stomach problems, and restlessness. Emotional trauma may require emotional healing to fix, which can consist of a combination of therapy and lifestyle changes. Sometimes, emotional trauma may result in post-traumatic stress disorder, which can involve nightmares, flashbacks, detachment, and other symptoms. PTSD and emotional trauma in general may be treated with online therapy.

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